Genevieve Huizar: A Justice Warrior Passes on.

Genevieve Huizar, the mother of Manuel Diaz who was killed by Anaheim police July 21, 2012, has just passed away in Arizona from a severe case of coronavirus. She leaves behind her devoted husband John, three daughters, a lot of grandchildren, and countless comrades in the fight for justice and police accountability.

After her fleeing, unarmed son was shot fatally twice in the back on Anna Drive – the sixth of seven similar Anaheim police killings in a twelve-month period, which led to riots and protests – DA Rackauckas as always found the killing justified and “within policy.”

So Genevieve took her fight to a federal jury in Santa Ana, where Anaheim’s lawyer Moses Johnson dragged Manuel’s name through the mud, bringing up accusations, innuendos and past brushes with the law, even though the officer knew about none of these things when killing Manuel so they should have been irrelevant.  Meanwhile the judge wouldn’t let the plaintiff bring up actually relevant facts about the famously trigger-happy officer, who had shot another unarmed man half a year earlier.  So the Santa Ana jury, in the foreman’s words, “decided to trust a white policeman over a [alleged] gangbanger.”

Holding it together while being abused by the psychotic James Robert Reade, Aug. 8, 2012.

Many parents would have given up there, but not Genevieve – she appealed this ruling to the Ninth Circuit which agreed with her – the police side can’t bring up irrelevant negative allegations against the victim, which have nothing to do with why they were killed.  Anaheim appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, which agreed with the Ninth Circuit by refusing to hear the case, and when Genevieve went back to court again, with a level playing field, she won a ruling of excessive force against the Anaheim officer, and a modest sum.  But most historically, it was from an Orange County jury – a first in county history, and now not the last!

And this was Genevieve’s most concrete success, the precedent she set that police victims can’t be smeared and slandered at the trials of their killers.  One year later she sat near me in the courtroom at the wrongful-death trial of Officer German Alvarez for the killing of unarmed Gustavo Najera, and the same Anaheim attorney, Moses Johnson tried hard to get the judge to allow him to talk about Gustavo’s “toxicology” – i.e. to claim that the fact Gustavo may have been high on something made it less of a big deal that Alvarez blew him away.  The judge steadfastly refused to allow that.  I whispered to Genevieve, “This is because of you, and your good fight,” and she smiled. 

Husband John at right, attorney Dale Galipo at left.

Throughout all this she was a rock of support to other families of police victims, starting a group named “Our Realities Fighting Police Brutality.”  A couple of years ago, desirous of some peace and change for herself and her large extended family, she packed up and moved to Arizona, but has continued to support our movement from there.

She’ll be taken off the ventilator at 3pm today.  We are lighting candles.  And the movement continues, as witness the huge and heartfelt turnout at Hector Hernandez’ 1-year vigil in Fullerton last Thursday night.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.